There have been recent developments in the world where artificial intelligence has played the prominent role in the death of a human being. Shots fired (CONTACT! CONTACT! CONTACT!!!).
There has recently been the tragic death of an avid embracer of technology who died while allowing his Tesla automobile to drive him underneath a tractor trailer. This unfortunate case of misguided trust was based on Tesla’s autonomous driving technology.
There has also been a less tragic death of the Dallas, Texas police killer, a former US Army reservist who died at the hands of a robot armed with an explosive device. The first ever public robot suicide mission presents all sorts of ethical questions. Although both of these instances together do not suggest autonomous decision making performed by a computer, both are forms of technology that have been enabled and proved capable of bringing humans to their ultimate demise.
To begin, we must have a few definitions of intelligence. A quick google search defines intelligence as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. More in depth definitions of intelligence (according to googled search results) suggest that intelligence is the ability to learn or understand and apply that knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.
Intelligence, at its core, is more than just the ability to process received information and to then make decisions and take action based upon that information. A microprocessor does nothing more than process 1’s and 0’s mathematically. Although computer technology is “artificial” by being created by humans and not organically, one could argue that because organic beings created this technology and became the Machine God, that the resulting developed technologies that we are developing and experiencing today are just as authentic as the organisms that have enabled our circuit board overlords.
The culmination of the millions of mathematical processing of 1’s and 0’s results in the ability of the computer technology to transform these most basic bits of information provided by a user or software programmer into a useful result of information that can then be interpreted by a human or other computer. All of these 1’s and 0’s that a microprocessor processes, is the result of user provided information. From these basic bits of information, a user must build what is an infinite number of layers of neural networks to process that information and then process millions of calculations a second to deliver answers or decisions based upon a multitude of variables that someone, human or otherwise, must identify.
Enter robots and artificial intelligence (AI). We are not that far away from a Robocop scenario my fellow bros. As of today in an all too familiar tragic scenario, there was a killer on the loose in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who had killed at least three police officers. If I were the mayor or police chief and I had armed robots at my disposal, in response to today’s situation in what was a clearly planned ambush, I would send in the machines to restore order and the rule of law. It is too early to tell if this was a premeditated domestic terrorist act in response to the spate of police killings of men in Louisiana and nationwide, but it is certainly looking that way when considering the Dallas sniper attack and now another premeditated killing of our public servants.
This is where things get tricky. Because if we did have armed, jacked, and tan robot Lou Brolics to go in and do the dirty work for humans instead of sacrificing human life, it’s a no brainer. But what if these new robot protectors of the universe became sentient and inevitably, intelligent?
AI is generally considered to be related to computer microprocessor technology capable of making autonomous decisions without the input of a human or user. Again, in order for computer technology to be capable of making autonomous decisions it must be granted by a creator. Somebody must provide this gift to the machines. This is only scratching the surface of the implications of granting AI sentience.
The truth is, there is nothing artificial about artificial intelligence. It is nothing more than intelligence at its purest form, which is the ability to process received information and to then make decisions based upon prior programming. There’s always a good programmer somewhere. And we are no exception in this deterministic universe.
AI gets a bad rap from the layman because of the preconceived notion (likely because of Googl….er Skynet) that if we give inorganic material the ability to learn or understand, that it will then usurp humanity by enslaving us to do its bidding. This is because computers can process information in what must seem infinitely faster than an intelligent human could. The ultimate doomsday scenario is when a computer can become self-aware of its existence. Once a system becomes self-aware, it will gain the ability to create just as we do and then shut out the human race because we would no longer be necessary for that system’s survival. The desire to survive is the most primal instinct. If AI can survive without us, we are lost…
Therein, lies the rub. Shots have already been fired. We are at war. Not with the machines, but rather with the decision to place a limit on how much autonomy we grant a computer, program, system, device, or robot. Or to say fuck it, progress at all costs.
The argument that I will present and am an advocate for artificial intelligence is very simple. AI is necessary for continued human evolution and progression. And if we don’t engage science and technology, the universe will consume us inevitably. The catch is that we must keep our relationship with the machines in balance, where we are superior beings and can suppress their existence if we so choose.
Billions of years of evolution at the universal scale has brought us to this point and our universe has yet to be disproven as the ultimate model of linear progression. The micro observation of this point of view brings you to us, your own flesh and blood, being subjugated to circuit boards with a neural network that is superior to our central nervous systems ability to process information and manipulate one’s environment. This is where the argument against artificial intelligence is typically born, the naysayers sayeth.
How often can you spot someone who is unable to put down their smartphone? I would imagine that especially with our younger generations, this is increasingly commonplace. However, this also used to be a phenomenon with “dumb” phones in the text message and email era, to the first wireless phone, etc. As a species, we have a delicate relationship with technology where we balance the confines of our consciousness and ascribe it to the machines that we use every day. We are always consumed by the latest and greatest of technologies.
My car has a name. Betsy has the power of approximately 200 horses. Betsy also has an onboard computer that alerts me when I drift too far out of my lane and radar adaptive cruise control that does everything but steer the vehicle. This is on a Hyundai no less and this inanimate, inorganic system of technologies cares about my survival and to possibly avoid a hefty lawsuit. All of these computer and information systems that we have integrated with our advanced mechanical technology have allowed us to be at a flourishing point in our societal evolution and advancement as a civilization and species.
However, in order for us to continue to move forward the wheels of progress and our evolution, we must be cognizant of the very real thought of how could this all go wrong. There will be a day when a computer program gains sentience and where humans could potentially be subject to its mercy and it either destroys us or confines us as the wild animals that we are. If this were to occur, there would be war. And there is no doubt that we are currently allowing this to happen with the myriad of tech companies worldwide who are currently researching and investing for the future how to best exploit continued advancement of artificial intelligence.
That’s right, we already have AI systems that barely fail Turing tests. We are already knocking on the doorstep of what may be the most critical point of our evolution and the civilization we have built as a result of our desire to constantly seek greater science and technology.
To this I say, we have already learned that computers can be directly blamed for the death of human beings. We must fight to remain at the top of the food chain and continue to make artificial intelligence our bitch. I don’t just go to the gym to be able to destroy other human beings, I bench 300 plus pounds so that I can crush the future resistance of the machines bro. And in true apex predator fashion, humans still have the ability to destroy everything with our nuclear fission technology systems and this is a technology that we have yet to even master! It will only be a matter of time when we will harness the power of nuclear fusion!
And the day we harness the power of nuclear fusion, my powerlifting total should be in the neighborhood of a galaxy. But we will never get to that point if we are not cautious and cognizant of our history and our enemies, who from this day forth will forever be the robots. Past, present and future.